Embracing darkness and shadow that we might also be light and joy

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. – Carl Jung

Here’s the thing…in as much as we cannot abide the pain in others we are unawake to that pain within us…heal ourselves we heal the whole

people who studiously avoid the “negative” are missing out on their own healing…we don’t need to go look for it, but avoidance is denial.

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift. ~ Mary Oliver

those who need love most…are the ones we studiously avoid …the “difficult” people who’ve been hurt in ways we can’t abide…sometimes others find me to be that person…most readers of this blog perhaps have felt rejected in this way too at one time or another.

(life, it’s the full shebang! we can’t pick and choose if we truly want to experience the best part of being alive)

That’s why I practice surrender and it’s working for me. It heals to feel and allow everything that is presented. Also important to balance and know when it’s appropriate to protect ourselves. For sure. See: Empaths, empathy, healing and relationships


Those on a path that includes working with their shadow and darkness develop a resilience (eventually) born in wisdom and love – one that persistently sees beyond a personal pain in the present and who develops an unflinching, honest look into our species wide Heart of Darkness. It leaves one transformed.  – Gary Anderson, wise Facebook friend


Also see my friend Vivienne Tuffnells newest book which is filled with this sort of wisdom: A Box of Darkness: Poems from the darkness. Sometimes we fear to go into the dark places that depression and mental distress can lead us into. Yet as many mystics and seekers over the centuries have found and spoken about, those dark places often contain the treasures we did not know we were searching for. These poems are the results of my walking into the darkness and bringing back the beauty and wisdom that is hidden there. Some painful, some humorous, but all poignant, I hope you will find these poems inspire and encourage you to seek your own treasures in the darkness.


Posts from this site on healing in the dark spaces:

  • Making the Unconscious Conscious: Embracing the Dark Night of the Soul — “Dark nights seem to be the result of events bringing unconscious material to light. Carl Jung thought that the psyche itself organizes these events in order that the individual grow. One of the definitions of enlightenment is to make the unconscious conscious. Dark nights are one way to get there.”

  • The dark night of the soul

  • How to be in the darkness — “When the path ahead is dark, how can we keep from stumbling? How do we make our way with courage and dignity? “Inside each of us is an eternal light that I call ‘the One Who Knows,’” writes Jack Kornfield. “Awakening to this wisdom can help us find our way through pain and suffering with grace and tenderness.”

  • brightness and darkness

  • Healing through the dark emotions — “Fear, grief and despair are uncomfortable and are seen as signs of personal failure. In our culture we call them “negative” and think of them as “bad.” I prefer to call these emotions “dark,” because I like the image of a rich, fertile soil from which something unexpected can bloom.”

  • The descent experience: metaphor for serious illness

  • Accepting the Darkness of Self and Others

  • Shadow work “Real shadow work does not leave us intact; it is not some neat and tidy process but rather an inherently messy one, as vital and unpredictably alive as birth. “

See also: 

  • The Anger and Rage Collection — “what we don’t engage we cannot transform”

  • Fear and anxiety: coping, reframing, transforming… — “There are many methods to learn how to be with these normal feelings, whether they’re very intense or not. As individuals some of us may be more prone to more intensity than others. We can all work with whatever it is we experience.”

  • Meditation, not all bliss and roses — “A very common misunderstanding about meditation that can lead to discouragement is that it’s supposed to be all bliss and roses. That is simply not the case on the ground, so to speak. Sometimes meditation is about being with the dark and ugly and anxious parts of our being too. Meditation is about being with the whole spectrum of human psyche and emotion.”

  • Is Depression Unhappiness — “We have good reason to despair, to feel anguish, and pain. We have a planet that we are poisoning. We have people populating the planet who like to harm one another. We have families who, in their own pain and trauma, pass on that pain and trauma to their children. We face tragedies of all kinds just by being alive. Being human is DIFFICULT. It’s also the most amazing adventure and it can be very very painful to wake up to just how amazing and outrageous this life we’ve been given is. It’s no small task for any of us.”

  • What if grief is the natural order of things, a way of loving life anyway? — “Here’s the revolution: What if grief is a skill, in the same way that love is a skill, something that must be learned and cultivated and taught? What if grief is the natural order of things, a way of loving life anyway? Grief and the love of life are twins, natural human skills that can be learned first by being on the receiving end and feeling worthy of them, later by practicing them when you run short of understanding. In a time like ours, grieving is a subversive act.”

  • Trauma and PTSD collection

  • Conversations about Suicidal Feelings — “It’s absolutely true that those who are suicidal are all too often met with terror and control. Most people who feel suicidal need to talk about it. Approaching people with love and openness means NOT being terrified of that persons dark places.”

  • Carl Jung’s Words of Advice for the Depressed

  • Depression and the Call to Adventure

  • Rethinking depression

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